Most people take the parking brake on their car or truck for granted until it won't hold the vehicle on an incline anymore. This may be particularly annoying if the car has a manual transmission as it makes it a lot more difficult to move away from a static position on a hill. So, if you have encountered an issue in this area, what could be going wrong and what should you do?
How the Handbrake Works
In most vehicles, and certainly in order models, the handbrake mechanism is purely mechanical. In this case, the lever on the centre console is connected by cable to the rear brake mechanism. When you activate the handbrake, the cable will tighten, and this will push the brakes against the drum, or the pads against the disc, depending on what type of system is in place. This is, of course, fundamentally different from the regular operation of your brakes as that relies on hydraulic fluid and special activators instead.
If the handbrake is not holding the vehicle or an incline, there are a few potential problems:
Worn Shoes or Pads
Have you noticed any issues with the braking system in normal use? Does it take you longer to bring the vehicle to a halt than it used to, or have you noticed any squealing noises or vibrations when you put your foot on the pedal? If so, the fault may lie with the brake shoes or pads themselves. They may be worn or are not sitting properly and may require an adjustment. If they are overly worn, then you will need to replace them on both sides of the vehicle before adjusting the handbrake mechanism on the rear axle.
Alternatively, the brake shoes or pads could be in perfect condition, but there is an issue with the parking brake cable. For example, the cable may have come away from the vehicle's undercarriage, so you need to check to see if any mountings are broken off or have come loose. You need to look at the point where the cable attaches to the rear braking system to see if everything is still firmly attached.
Stuck in Place
Sometimes, the lever that connects the cable to the brake calliper may be stuck in one place. This can happen due to corrosion, and this mechanism should be greased or oiled from time to time as well.
The Easier Solution
If you don't fancy the idea of crawling around underneath the rear of your vehicle, you should take it to a mechanic instead. They'll be able to diagnose what is wrong with your parking brake system and restore everything to its normal working condition.
Reach out to a local mechanical repairs shop to learn more.